And let's not forget that all of this employee-driven, de facto DR butts up against another looming issue: data loss. Sure, having critical data stored in Dropbox may save CIOs when a disaster hits, but it could just as easily get a CIO fired if that Dropbox account gets hacked or a key sales manager quits after having poached all the data he needs in order to take his accounts with him to his new job.
A more pervasive and dangerous laissez-faire DR mistake is simply believing that your cloud provider will handle data backup and recovery for you. "When Amazon had downtime, customers were up in arms," says Jon Beck, senior vice president of worldwide channels and alliances for OpSource, a provider of enterprise cloud and managed hosting services. "There's not a service provider on the planet that won't have an outage someday. What was interesting about the Amazon outage is how many big-name customers didn't have a disaster recovery plan in place to either move data to other availability zones or to other providers."
Don't blame your cloud provider. Blame yourself.
The cloud marries disaster recovery to data replication
The problem with DR plans that involve moving data to other zones or providers is that the public Internet isn't built for shifting huge chunks of data around on a moment's notice. If mission-critical data still resides in on-premises servers, most small- to mid-sized organizations don't have the bandwidth in place for real DR, nor do they have the budget available if they wanted to add it.
Both OpSource and Leisureworld overcame the bandwidth obstacle through WAN optimization, with OpSource using the cloud-based WAN optimization service from Aryaka and Leisureworld using Riverbed's Steelhead appliances.
Interestingly enough, neither OpSource nor Leisureworld was thinking about DR when it deployed WAN optimization.
"A couple of our customers [including SaaS companies Xactly and Accept Software] started using Aryaka to replicate data from our East Coast to West Coast data centers," Beck says. "One of the great things about the cloud, with its elasticity and flexibility, is that you don't need to have separate conversations with vendors about data replication and disaster recovery. Those discussions get merged. You're no longer forced to have assets at one end sitting idle waiting for a disaster to happen. You can be using additional capacity for data replication between two sites, but in the event of a disaster, you can spin up compute assets in the secondary site on demand."
Neufeld of Leisureworld Senior Care had a similar experience. He deployed Riverbed appliances to overcome bandwidth limitations and replicate data from nursing and retirement homes back to the home office. Each home only has a cable modem or DSL connection. Once Riverbed was in place, Neufeld was able to deploy the virtual backup solution from Veeam. "Without WAN optimization, we wouldn't have had the bandwidth for this," he says.
What the cloud does and does not do for DR
The cloud is putting DR in reach of even the smallest organizations. SMBs may not have the time or IT savvy to sketch out a full-blown DR plan, but they can certainly sign up for cloud-based backup and recovery solutions. For the mid-market, more involved DR is also in reach, often augmented by WAN optimization and a variety of cloud-based services.